Main dishes,  Moroccan food

This vegan bastilla is the bomb!

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Moroccan bastilla

Bastilla, or also written ‘Pastilla’ is a North African dish in the form of a sweet and savoury pie. It is immensely popular in Morocco, and often served as a starter for a festive dinner.

Traditionally it is made from Warqa, which is a very thin, crisp and crepe-like pastry. However often brick pastry (a sort of phyllo pastry) is used instead, because making your own warqa is very labour intensive.

There are two main versions of Bastilla in Morocco: Poultry and seafood. The poultry bastilla would traditionally be made with pigeon, but chicken is often used nowadays. This one is always sweet & savoury, with the use of lots of cinnamon and sugar. The seafood pie however is not sweet, but spicy. This pie is often served on weddings.

My vegan rendition of a bastilla.

So for my vegan bastilla I took the ideas of a poultry pie, because I love the mixture of sweet and savoury together in a pie. A traditional poultry bastilla is layered in three layers. Firstly the meat layer, full of beautiful Moroccan spices, such as saffron, ground ginger and cinnamon. Secondly you would find a reduced layer of the meat liquid with onions and eggs to thicken it. And Finally topped with the last layer which consists of toasted (or fried) almonds with cinnamon and sugar. I just love this mixture of flavours and textures.

My biggest challenge veganising this dish was the second layer. Because the texture of the eggs really contributes to the overall experience. During my trial versions I worked with tofu, but that did not satisfy me, neither in flavour nor in texture. Therefore I started testing some batters that would set but still stay soggy (like scrambled eggs). Finally I found my answers in chickpea flour, water and aquafaba.

The vegetable mixture I chose instead of the meat was not too difficult, and I guess it can be adjusted to your own liking. I chose carrot, courgette and lentils. Personally I wouldn’t replace the lentils, as they provide an earthiness in flavours, and a richness in texture. But the carrot and/or courgette could be replaced by turnip, parsnip or celeriac.

The idea of this vegan bastilla is to really represent the Moroccan flavours. So don’t reduce your spice mix too much. It has to be full of flavours. Check often during your preparations, the flavours should be quiet powerful.

To give you a little idea about the working

Big reward!

It might look like a lot of work, but I promise you the reward is enormous! I was so happy when I managed to make a perfect vegan bastilla. My meat eating partner (who loves pigeon bastilla) was blown away by the outcome. I am afraid I will have to make it more often now 😉

Have fun! Enjoy the process, and ENJOY the food! Please add @haricoco1 to your instagram post, I love to see your Bastilla creations.

Check out some of my other Moroccan recipes;

This vegan bastilla recipe is part of the series; ‘Travels of taste‘. Discover & travel the world with our senses and imaginations. Meeting other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves in Morocco. Walking around the hustle & bustle of the souks, and discover all the flavours Morocco has to offer, check out my full Moroccan ‘travels of taste’ post; >>> Morocco – the flavours of the souks

6 Comments

    • Nicole

      Thank you Stacy for pointing this out. The correct measurement for the chickpea flour should be 50 grams, which is 1.7 ounces. There is obviously a technical mistake with the recipe card, I will get onto this first thing Monday morning. Meanwhile it might be better to put the setting to ‘metric’ which is the one in which it has been written. I hope this helps. Nicole

  • Catherine

    Hello! This looks fantastic, and I think I want to make it my vegan main for a small Christmas gathering this weekend, but I’m going to have a lot going on in my kitchen that day.

    Do you reckon this would work OK if I assembled it ahead of time and then baked it at the last minute, or would it be more sensible to bake it in advance and have it at room temperature, or pop it in the oven for an extra five minutes while I’m getting everything else on the table?

    Would love your advice!

    Catherine

    • Nicole

      Hi Catherine, Great idea to serve it at a little Christmas festive gathering. It is traditionally a true festive dish.
      I know exactly what you mean, I was in the same situation hosting a small party the end of October. So what I did in the end; I decided to make the bastilla fully around noon. And put it quickly back in a hot oven just before serving (indeed for about 5 minutes). The outcome was; The bastilla is better when eaten fresh. But the re-heated one was still delicious and very much liked by my guests (of which one was a top french pastry chef :O).

      So what happens has all to do with the second layer (the vegan ‘scrambled egg’ mixture). When you make it fresh is really has that soft scrambled egg texture. When it cools down it hardens, and becomes a bit like, Over-cooked scrambled eggs. So when reheating this layer will not go back to its original texture.
      Another solution would be; Pre-make all the filling in advance (3 layers) and assemble the bastilla last minute, in which case you will have to be confident and quick with pastry folding. If you choose to go with this option. You can make the ‘egg-mxture’ in advance, and it will harden when cooling. But to get it back to its soft (more fluffy) texture just reheat and add a splash of boiling water, and stir it in.

      Good luck! (let me know how it went)
      And Enjoy your Christmas gathering.
      Nicole

      • Catherine

        Hi Nicole,

        Thanks so much for your quick reply! I shall ponder my options re making it in advance versus otherwise. I have carnivores at the meal too, so assembling and cooking the bastilla while the turkey is resting might be the way to go… especially as I have olive oil spray for the layers, and I’m not afraid to use it! The question will be whether I can keep enough bench space free for this once the meal gets going…

        I’ve already made the vegetable and lentil filling, incidentally, and it smells and tastes wonderful!

        Best wishes,

        Catherine

        • Nicole

          Great to hear! You sound so organised! I am sure it will be a success, being so well prepared. Wishing you a great and delicious celebration.
          Keep me posted!
          Nicole

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